Man reading on sofa at home in lockdown

Zero Waste Ideas to Survive Lockdown

Well done everyone, we’re well into lockdown in Spain due to the rapid increase in Covid19 cases in the country. How has being zero waste featured in that for you? Have you found that it was on your mind a little more or a little less? While you’re holed up at home, are you wondering how can you survive the situation but still be environmentally friendly?

From an environmental perspective it already feels like a massive win. Consumerism has reduced, meaning a natural reduction in waste when it comes to things like packaging of items such as clothes, take away food, gifts, toys etc. (think of a day in the life of a shopping mall…) And then we have people not commuting or travelling so there is less fuel being burned, fewer flights in the air etc.

Satellite images have circulated showing how air pollution and nitrogen levels have decreased over China and Italy in the wake of the coronavirus lockdowns. No doubt the same images will arise over the likes of Madrid and Barcelona and even London, when things are coming to a halt there too. My husband even commented to me today how he had the kitchen door open and noticed that the background hum of the road had gone and he could hear the birds more clearly, and that the skies were clear of all the prolific vapor trails from aeroplanes now that so few flights were operating.

It got me thinking about what ways we can all keep busy at home and remain zero waste at the same time. Some of these ideas many of you will likely already be doing, others maybe not, so let’s have a look:

Growing seeds: A zero waste food source

Personally, there is nothing I like better than to plant a seed and watch it grow. March/April is the planting season and is the perfect time to start germinating new plants. It could be anything from flowers for your balcony or window boxes to starting a full vegetable patch in your garden. Whatever your home or your scope, you can still enjoy that nurturing feeling of creating new life and watching it grow. If your local supermarket sells seeds, then you’ve got a head start there and can arm yourself with some flowers, fruit or vegetables.

Luckily we had a large bag of soil on the terrace already before the shops closed, but if getting soil is a problem, there are many delivery services still functioning so you could also order seeds, pots, tools and soil online if you needed to (though it’s better to look at what you have around the house already that you can repurpose instead.

Furthermore, there are also subscriptions to fabulous companies like the lovely Mud and Bloom who promote zero waste nature boxes for kids. My mother was kind enough to sign our son up to a 6-month subscription so every month he gets a new box filled with compost pellets, seeds and other clever nature activities, everything from painting stones to creating a bumble bee mobile (not with real bees!). These boxes are perfect for indoor activities and for those who don’t have access to a garden. Thanks to Mud and Bloom (@mudnbloom on Instagram) we’re currently growing peas, cauliflower, snap dragons, lavender, black eyed susan, fennel and two willow trees!

So while it might take a while for the seeds to bloom into actual fruit and vegetables, once they do, it will be one less reason to leave the house and will, of course, create no waste.

Baking: Bonding with your kids or just using up what’s in the cupboards

This may seem like an obvious one, but being stuck at home has lead us to be more resourceful with what we use. On more than one occasion during lockdown in our house we’ve thought of having a clear out and using up what’s in our cupboards. Perhaps this is a by-product of wanting to find fewer reasons to go out to the shops, or just a general sense of having a ‘sort-out’ while being indoors, either way, it’s a positive move. Whether you like cooking or not (I fall heavily into the NOT camp!) there are tons of recipes out there that you can do by yourself, with a partner or with you kids.

Many of us will have our kids at home instead of school for the coming weeks and providing the last week of home schooling hasn’t lead to World War III, then cooking can actually cover such a huge amount of learning in one sitting, that it sure beats algebra or grammar.

Today my son experienced chocolate cornflake cakes for the first time, and despite needing no cooking skills whatsoever, it was immensely satisfying and very high on the zero waste rankings. Our favourite resource is the BBC Good Food website for all kinds of recipes and loads of good vegan options too.

Journaling: Write it down – for posterity

Another by-product of being stuck inside for weeks on end is feeling the need to write. In our busy schedules of normal life, we may often feel like we don’t have time. I know I use that excuse a lot for not doing more writing. However, this current time with the whole world trying to fight covid19 is unprecedented and therefore more deserving than ever to be recorded, remembered and passed on to future generations.

By writing things down, you can release stress, clear your head, process your thoughts and engage your brain, all of which are going to be necessary as quarantine times are starting to be extended in some countries. Maybe you can use it as a chance to get offline and get back to pen and paper too, I know some friends have really enjoyed getting back into drawing and sketching as a result too. It’s time to have a dig around in those drawers that rarely get opened and reach for your pens, pencils and notepads, dust them off and get creating – a perfect zero waste activity and one for all the family too.

Take up a new hobby: Or start something you’ve been putting off

I’ve been wanting to learn how to play the ukulele for a long time now. That would be my hobby take up of choice. Once I’ve found a reliable online source for a good instrument, I’ll likely indulge. But hobbies can take their form in many ways. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that you learn a new skill, but that you get around to doing that ‘thing’ you’ve been meaning to do for a while. One of my others is researching and sorting out a home composter. I can’t bear looking at all the fruit and veg scraps going into the bin any longer (I’ve even been sprinkling them into the countryside sometimes on dog walks close to my home!), so my evenings are spent watching videos from all around the world with people’s own ideas, versions and suggestions of DIY zero waste home composters.

Might it be your time to make that switch to solid shampoo that you’ve been meaning to do? Or get a family pack of bamboo toothbrushes and natural toothpaste so you have one less thing to grab at the supermarket? Maybe you’ve been meaning to try wax wraps and now you’re going out less often and doing more home cooking? It could be time to make some zero waste swaps around your home so you come out of the other side with your greener habits well and truly in place. You can make your eco-friendly shopping list with us and have it delivered to your door by courier. Our delivery service is as yet unaffected, and we have put all necessary precautions in place when packing orders etc. too.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to see the positives in the situation wherever you can, so hopefully some of these suggestions will help make your lockdown days more bearable and be a trigger to start some new zero waste habits. Tell us what you’ve been up to in the comments below.

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